Monday, January 14, 2008

"This childhood sponsored by..."

It's kind of hard to type when your editor is staring at you. He has rather unblinking eyes... And I think that's because he is seriously lacking in coffee. Let me see... Yep, I'm typing, his eyes are wide open, and he can't see a thing beyond the next cup of coffee. Let us take a moment and send a cosmic gift of psychic love to editors everywhere, who desperately need both love and coffee... Okay, that's it; don't overdo it.

MP is gone this week. He's 3 time zones away doing something desperately important for the government, leaving me to cook for myself, oh God... Now Fred the Editor is laughing at me. Thanks, Fred.

Well... I was thinking about my childhood and all those happy little Saturday morning cartoons, that warm friendly feeling in the morning before you needed coffee to get you up, and I wondered, where are those cartoons now? Because believe it or not, some have made a resurgence, and some have never been away. I decided to do a bit of digging.

And in my detective work, I made one of those discoveries that I suppose I've always known, but didn't need thrust in my face at 11:30 pm when I'm alone and have only had pepperoni with tater-tots and cocktail sauce for dinner: All these characters, save one, were created by greeting card or toy companies with the sole purpose of marketing products.

Then, as now, I am naive.

Rainbow Brite was a product of Hallmark in 1984. I think the last cartoon was '85 or so, but you can still find some Rainbow Brite stuff marketed. She also survives as a Halloween costume. (You follow this link at your own risk, because this is the stuff that kinky fantasies are made of.)

The Care Bears were an American Greetings creation from 1981. There are definitely still around, having undergone radical procedures to shave 10-15 years of their ages, plus tummy-tucks. You can find the new ones here. However, it's not the same if they can't do the "Care Bear Stare."

Jem and the Holograms is probably the most buried of the cartoons, but I did find some Jem and the Holograms stuff at Hot Topic recently. That ran from 1985-1988 and tied into almost as many girl fetishes as My Pretty Pony (rock star/fashion/ makeup vs. ponies/hair) The original songs that came with the dolls can be downloaded from here, in case you've had "Universal Appeal" running through your head for 20 years.

Strawberry Shortcake has had a resurgence after a major makeover, but the original was from American Greeting in 1977. As far as I know, they were the first scented dolls. She's just a hop skip and a jump away from the Care Bears now, along with Holly Hobbie. (Let's face it -- AG totally dominated kids programming in the early '80s)

Here's the one I didn't expect: The Smurfs are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Created by a Belgian cartoonist, they are lauded in countries across the globe. They too, are experiencing a resurgence in the US (I saw Smurfs at Ben Franklin and freaked) but when you read the history, you realize that they've never actually left.

Children are conveniently able to overlook really crappy animation (watch Speed Racer Lately?) and be drawn wholly into another world. I admire them for that, as well as their ability to ignore corporate marketing policies. So let's hear it for Saturday cartoons -- where a kid can be a kid!TM

1 comment:

Fred said...

I just saw this. Sneak - I thought you were kidding! Thx for teh love.